Shaun Dolac’s face contorted into a grimace as he listened to the results of a recent survey about college football rivalries.
The junior linebacker for the Bulls didn’t understand how the University at Buffalo football team could be labeled “boring.”
The survey, distributed by TickPick and conducted by Fractl, examined more than 1,000 sports fans, and gauged their perspectives on college football rivalries and current NCAA conference alignments.
The survey found that 64% of college sports fans polled were in support of realignment, and that Army-Navy is the most iconic rivalry in college football.
But the survey’s responses that related to “watchability ratings” characterized UB as the “least entertaining to watch” in college football, ahead of Auburn, Appalachian State, Baylor and Boston College.
It’s unusual that UB made the survey, as it’s a program that doesn’t have any natural or traditional rivalries in the Mid-American Conference. Tug-of-wars have built up between the Bulls and Kent State, or the Bulls and Ohio in recent years, but there isn’t an annual grudge match against one opponent that UB circles in bright red ink on its calendar, either against a long-standing or a geographically close opponent.
The MAC was also spared a superlative; it wasn’t ranked among college football’s “most exciting” or “most boring” conference to watch, despite the popularity of mid-week #MACtion games televised on ESPN platforms in November.
Still, survey says: The Bulls are boring.
But don’t tell that to UB’s players.
“I think a lot of people are going to be wrong, and I think this year, they’re going to be proven wrong,” said Dolac, a West Seneca East graduate. “We’re going to be a very exciting team this upcoming fall, especially in the spring game, because I think a lot of our guys have a lot of energy, and we’re just excited to play football.”
If you’re going to call the Bulls anything, do not call them “not entertaining.” Especially given the Bulls have risen to the upper ranks of the MAC in the last five seasons, save for this past season’s 4-8 finish in Maurice Linguist’s first year as head coach. The Bulls are gearing for a turnaround.
Quarterback Matt Myers has seen the highs and lows of the program in the last four years, from its run to two MAC championship games to its NFL products, including Washington Commanders running back Jaret Patterson, Philadelphia Eagles tight end-cum-quarterback Tyree Jackson and Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Malcolm Koonce.
That doesn’t sound boring at all to the West Seneca West graduate.
“That’s just the last thing I think I would hear, that we’re boring,” Myers said. “We just care about the people in the building and don’t really listen to the outside noise.”
Kyle Zorn, a brand manager with TickPick, explained the genesis of the survey came from the topic of rivalries in college sports – think Michigan-Ohio State, Army-Navy or Auburn-Alabama – and that there was no specific methodology behind it.
TickPick is a secondary ticket marketplace that does not charge service fees for ticket purchases. Fractl oversaw the distribution of the survey and returns.
Zorn, who grew up in Tonawanda, even admitted he questioned the collective response.
“I read that and thought, ‘Um, why?’ ” Zorn said. “It’s basically a fill-in-the-blank answer.”
On its website, TickPick said that of the 1,026 individuals who took the survey, 63% were men, and 37% were women who were between the ages of 24-62, with a median age of 37. TickPick also stated that the data was not weighted, and that each hypothesis was not statistically tested, and that the margin of error was plus or minus 3%.
“With UB, and seeing that answer it was like, ‘Wait, huh?’ ” Zorn said. “The sample size is always the biggest challenge, making sure that you have an accurate and fair understanding. We’re asking people which are the biggest rivalries, and there’s information that’s accurate, but with UB you can say there could be a larger sample size. It’s not going to be 100%, and you are always going to have a niche challenge.
“Even if you ask an NBA fan if they think LeBron James is the greatest NBA player, people are still going to think, ‘No, there’s someone else.’ ”
UB’s players, though – none of whom said he took the survey – still disagree with its results.
“There’s a story we had over the last year, and that’s pretty exciting, for us,” Myers said. “Just coming together, with a new staff and a lot of different faces, especially this year with the team. You walk into a locker room and half the team is new faces, that means you’ve got a lot to work on this offseason.
“I think it’s a very exciting group.”
Get local news delivered to your inbox!